Exiled soldiers return home

Exiled soldiers return home

MASERU – SOME soldiers who fled Lesotho for South Africa during political turbulence between August 2014 and June 2015 have returned home, thepost heard this week. The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spokesman, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi, confirmed the return of the army officers.
But he could not disclose how many soldiers had already arrived in Lesotho. The soldiers began arriving home on Monday.
Ntoi said the soldiers had not been given any tasks within the army as they are still awaiting further instructions from the government.
Vacancies left by the officers were filled up during their exile.

The returning soldiers include Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s former bodyguards who fled the country following a gunfight with a faction in the army that was opposed to the premier. Major Mojalefa Mosakeng, head of Thabane’s bodyguards, was shot and injured when the army attacked them near the Royal Palace. The other bodyguard was Corporal Ngoliso Majara.

Mosakeng and Majara were hospitalised for weeks in a Bloemfontein hospital following the incident. Mosakeng was shot on the arm while Majara had his right jaw shattered by a bullet. Part of his nose was also blown away.

Mosakeng and Majara were inspecting Thabane’s route on February 1, 2015 to determine which road his convoy should use to Setsoto Stadium where his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party was inaugurating its website. On their way from the inspection, they noticed an army truck and a 4×4 twin cab parked near the Royal Palace, where Thabane would pass, and they advised the premier to use another route.

Mosakeng and Majara were attacked by the soldiers. They then fled the country. Six months earlier, Majara had facilitated Thabane’s dramatic escape from State House on August 29, 2014 when the army raided the residence and police stations in response to the sacking of the then army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.

Majara bundled Thabane into the boot of a relative’s car and sped from the State House at a time when the commandos were roaming the yard.
Between that time and June 2015 more than 20 soldiers skipped the country after rival factions of the army fought over the control of the military.
The soldiers who fled were said to be backing the late army commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Some of the returning exiles are Colonel Matela Matobakele, Lieutenant Colonel Lekhooa Matlali, Captain Lehloa Ramotšo, Corporal Mofomobe, Corporal Lefoka, Second Lieutenant Mokhothu, Second Lieutenant Ranthimo, Private Mosaku, Private Lepota and Private Motsieloa.
Ntoi said the army officers who have returned to the country are still members of the LDF but they have been placed on leave of absence.
He said they would be on leave until the government has made a final decision about them. Ntoi said the leave arrangement also affects the 23 army officers who were accused of mutiny.

The soldiers were accused of hatching a plot together with Mahao to mutiny against Kamoli and kill some of the senior officers.
Ntoi said the army officers who have returned home will not join the LDF and will also not be involved with any day-to-day duties of the institution.

Majara Molupe

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